3 J's (A Few Points)

John R. Ernst ernst at pipeline.com
Sun Nov 26 22:18:09 MST 1995


Maybe we "three J's"  have too many balls in
the air at once.  At any rate, this note is
meant to nail down a few points.

1. On that extra value.

I did not think I was doing anything clever in
my post.  I was simply trying to look at a
capitalist investment following the guidelines
given by Marx.  At any rate, the 1920 is the
social value created if there is no price
reduction.   I then go on to drop the price
a bit, using the same assumption Marx's makes
in Book I, Chapter 12 where he discusses the
concept of relative surplus value. Note that,
in the next line of numbers, I drop the surplus
value to 920, indicating the usual Marxian
assumption.  Still, there is "extra" value
produced just as there is in Marx when he
distinguishes between social value and
individual value.

2. On the Technical Composition of Capital.

In my discussions (mainly with Juan) I saw
this as a battle over the role or potential
role of index numbers. Economists use them
all the time to indicate changes in the real
wage and productivity for the economy as a
whole.  Are they in Marx's CAPITAL?  No.
Strictly speaking, Marx does says that
the technical composition of capital is the
mass of the means of production per worker.
But, when I read your posts concerning
measuring actual masses of inputs, I began
to move to Juan's position.  As you know,
I have suggested dropping the topic for now
as it did not seem to helpful in getting
clarity on issues in CAPITAL.

The point I was trying to make is better made
by Marx himself in the two passages from
the Book III (pp 108-9 and pp 260, Int. Ed.)
We should be aware that the vast majority of
opponents and defenders of Marx's FRP would
not accept the types of investments that Marx
speaks would lead to a FRP.  Here, I refer
to the works of John Roemer, an Analytical
Marxist, Ian Steedman, a neo-Ricardian as well
as professed Marxists like David Laibman and
Maurice Dobb.

3. On Moral Depreciation

I certainly do agree with your point that there
may be a connection between "moral depreciation"
and the "turnover of fixed capital."  In a recent
post, I gave an example of my interpretation of
"moral depreciation."   In attempting to determine
the depreciation charges on a piece of machinery that
costs 1500 -- the capitalist is told by the engineer
that the equipment will last 15 years and by his
experience that, on average, machinery lasts 10 years.
If he believes his engineer the depreciation charge
would be 100 per year.  If he believes his experience,
the depreciation charge would be 150 per year.  The
difference between the two, 50, is what I call "moral
depreciation."  It surely is related to the turnover
time of fixed capital.

4. On Engels

I'd like to postpone a discussion of what Engels says
following Marx's statement in Bk III, CH 15, Sec. 4.
I do note in a post following mine, you found something
I didn't.

I hope this post does "nail a few points."



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